« The Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV) and Large Unmanned Surface Vessel (LUSV) will be the Navy’s first unmanned surface programs of record, » the U.S. Fleet Forces Command said.
The MUSV will initially focus on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads and electronic warfare (EW) systems, while the LUSV will focus on surface warfare (SUW) and strike missions. The fundamental capabilities of these platforms may necessitate changes in how Carrier Strike Groups, Expeditionary Strike Groups and Surface Action Groups conduct operations.
The CONOPS will describe the capabilities at initial operating capability (IOC), the organization, manning, training, equipping, sustaining, and the introduction and operational integration of the Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle and Large Unmanned Surface Vessel with individual afloat units as well as with Carrier Strike Groups, Expeditionary Strike Groups, and Surface Action Groups.
The target audience for this CONOPS includes all US Navy commanders who plan, review, approve, and execute activities in support of combatant commanders or service goals, objectives, and operations. Additionally, the CONOPS will inform doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) developers, force providers, the acquisition community, and resource sponsors of fleet requirements for Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle and Large Unmanned Surface Vessel manning, training, and system enhancements that increase the warfighting capability of these platforms.
A panel of specific topics will be determined by the CONOPS Development Team (CDT) as appropriate to address operational and sustainment capabilities and employment at IOC, as well as potential future capabilities. As a starting point, the CDT should consider eight main areas ranging from interoperability challenges to C2 and ISR processes, basing, sustainment and deployment concepts. The final draft is expected for September 15, 2020.
On July 2019, the U.S. Navy released a request for proposals (RFP) to industry for the development of the MUSV. The MUSV will be a pier-launched, self-deploying modular, open architecture surface vehicle capable of autonomous navigation and mission execution. The development RFP contains options for additional USVs.
Naval News already reported on various MUSV concepts unveiled at recent trade shows, including concepts by Atlas NA and Austal USA.
Few weeks later, the U.S. Navy released a similar RFP to industry for the development of the LUSV. The LUSV will be a high-endurance, reconfigurable ship equipped with Vertical Launch System (VLS) cells. It will be able to accommodate various payloads for unmanned missions to augment the U.S. Navy’s manned surface force.
With a large payload capacity, the LUSV will be designed to conduct a variety of warfare operations independently or in conjunction with manned surface combatants. The LUSV will be capable of semi-autonomous or fully autonomous operation, with operators in-the-loop (controlling remotely) or on-the-loop (enabled through autonomy).